Why is Everyone So Busy? (and how to ease overwhelm)

How many times have you heard this:

Q: Hi there, how you doing?
A: Busy! I’m so busy I just can’t keep up!

Lots of clocks because everyone is so busy!

Why is everyone so busy? Technology is supposed to make things easier for us and enable us to get things done more quickly. Oprah taught us years ago about the healing power of setting boundaries and saying no.

So why then is our world filled with stressed-out people who feel overwhelmed by life demands?


If you feel so busy that you don’t feel aligned and at peace, then it’s time for you to get that under control.

Peaceful beach scene

Assess Your Current Situation

Different stages of life tend to call for feeling more busy and likely overwhelmed.

I certainly have felt the overwhelm of being too busy at various times in my life. It’s not a pleasant feeling.

For me, I think I felt this way the most when I was a young mother. I had two children less than two years apart, and I rarely got a good night’s sleep. I still tried to get all the housework done, cook healthy meals, and all the other things that come along with life on top of trying to be the best mom I could be.

I wasn’t as present as I could have been because I was racing to the next thing on my list. My babies were my joy, yet the things on the to-do list were taking an energetic toll on my time of motherhood.

Setting some boundaries and changing my thoughts would have helped me feel more in control and keep my sense of joy even during a busy season of life.

Gone are those days, but I take forward the lesson of not letting life get so busy that it takes away my joy.

Midlife seems to still be busy, but it’s less chaotic. I now have time to reignite my own passions. However, I’m better able to recognize when I’m doing too much, and I’m careful to keep overwhelm at bay.

Life is about balance, and you can have it regardless of the phase of life you’re in. You can have inner peace at any stage in your life.

“We’re so busy watching out for what’s just ahead of us that we don’t take time to enjoy where we are.”  ~ Bill Watterson

The “I’m So Busy” Trap

Here are some thoughts you might find yourself thinking when you’re over-busy:

  • I’m never going to get everything done!
  • I don’t have time for fun because I’m so busy!
  • I’m so busy that I feel like I’m drowning and can’t get ahead!

You may even feel paralyzed when you have too much going on – to the point that you find it nearly impossible to make a decision. I know my productivity goes down the drain when I have too much going on.

Sometimes when I have too many things to do I end up doing none of it. I’ll manage to go into a Facebook stupor or zone out on some silly game on my phone.

The “I’m so busy” emotional state is going to make you more likely to miss great opportunities because you’re stuck in the overwhelm that comes with the “I’m so busy” trap.

Reclaim Time Via Awareness

Do you know what your spending your time on? I mean REALLY know?

“Without becoming aware of how you currently spend your time, it’s hard to reflect on whether you’re acting in ways that match up with what your values and highest-impact tasks are. Keeping a time log is a great way to find your starting point, your base level.”
~Chris Bailey from The Productivity Project

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Feeling overwhelmed and don’t know how the day flies by? Until you know exactly how you’re spending your time, you can’t make conscious choices based on the truth of how you spend your time. 

To truly know where you’re spending the minutes of your day, a time log can be your discovery tool.

Simply write each time of day in 15-minute or half-hour increments down the left side of of a piece of paper. (Yes, an old fashion tracking system is a free and effective tool.)

Then, create some simple categories of how you spend your time. Some categories might be appointments, social event, email, housework, rest, self-care, etc. In this day and age, social media is likely an important category because it so easily consumes your time without you realizing it.

Next to each time, write the category of how you spend your time. 

Yes, at first this might seem like a daunting task. But this exercise will make you aware of exactly how you’re spending your time so you can then know where you want to choose to make better use of your time.

For example, is Facebook worth 60 minutes of your day? Do you need to set a timer and limit Facebook time? If you don’t know the truth about how much time you really spend on Facebook throughout the day, you won’t know if you want to reclaim some of that time-spend.

Certain areas of your life might already be dictated by meetings or appointments, in which case that part of your day is already somewhat documented by your calendar. Tracking your time between appointments – even if only 5-15 minutes increments – can reveal to you where you can recoup some precious time. 

Logging your time can help you stay accountable for your choices. When you write it and have to look at the truth of how your time was spent, the truth may be like a slap in the face.

This exercise can be revealing and life-changing.  Most importantly, it is a tool you can use to make start making conscious choices based on the truth of how you spend your time.

Lady on horse enjoying the journey

Learn to Manage Your Mind

There are a few things you can do to learn to live in the moment even when you’ve got a lot of things going on. The following tips will help you be mindful and truly present so you can enjoy each moment.

1. Give Your Brain a Break

Have you ever received the best ideas out of the blue while relaxing in the shower or while enjoying a drive down the highway on a beautiful day?

When your mind is at ease and you’re just enjoying the moment, that’s when you’re able to to allow for good ideas to pop into your head.

Being in a perpetual state of feeling like you’re too busy keeps you from taking advantage of the ideas and better productivity that come from a mind that’s at ease. Chronic busyness can even cause burnout.

Getting out of a stress zone will actually energize you. You’ll shift to a more balanced place where you feel peaceful and your joy glows. A little relaxation will put the skip back in your step!

Make it a priority to take much needed breaks before you get so busy that stress takes over and you lose your joy.

Start by taking a deep breath. Right now, take a deep breath. I’ll wait…

Isn’t it amazing how a deep breath or two can calm what feels like a storm? Deep breathing can actually slow your heart rate and reduce your blood pressure. So much benefit from a simple deep breath.

If you have time, meditation is an excellent way to calm your mind. Read how to get started with meditation.

Even if a deadline is hanging over your head, take just a little time to relax. Pet your cat, take a walk, enjoy a foot soak, or do a fun workout. Do whatever brings you joy and you’ll find yourself rejuvenated.

When you act from a place of joy and ease, you’ll be inspired to take action that will be met with better success.

Get to a place where you’re brain is at ease, and then trust that when you feel good you know you’ll end up being more productive and will get access to better ideas.

2. Get Feeling Good!

By focusing on either positive or negative thoughts, you bring either positive or negative experiences into your life. (That’s actually the basis for The Law of Attraction.)

When you’re in a positive, relaxed emotional state where you’re feeling good, you open doors to good ideas and a path to feeling even better.

The catalyst for feeling good is just that… feeling good! Since feeling good is contagious, you’ll naturally build momentum and feel even better.

If you want to feel better and better, make life decisions when you’re feeling good. You’ll be likely to come up with ideas and decisions that will bring you more good feelings.

If you’re so focused on how busy you are and how unhappy it makes you feel, you’ll likely stay on that same path and get more of the same.

Going back to my personal example of being too busy and therefore not fully enjoying time with my family, I could have changed my thoughts to those that would have made me feel better.

For example, I was focusing on thoughts like “I’m so tired that I’m not being a great mom. There’s so much I need to get done. I can’t keep up with everything and nobody seems to notice I’m a walking zombie.”

Changing my thoughts to pure bliss wasn’t possible, but I could have gotten to feeling hopeful by thinking something like “I love being with my kids and I’m doing just fine. I love my family, and the important stuff will get done. Everything will work out.” These thoughts would have been a catalyst to better times more quickly.

Even though you may have a lot of things you need to get done, remember that feeling good is the most important thing.

With practice, you’ll be able to know that everything is always working out for you, and feeling good is the best thing you can do for yourself. Feel gratitude about what you have right now.

Happiness isn't about getting what you want all the time. It's about loving what you have and being grateful for it.


Choose Joy

Your happiness is your choice, and nobody else is going to do it for you.

Once you practice this way of thinking, you’ll get to a point where you won’t accept feeling bad. You get conditioned to enjoying the benefits of feeling good, and you realize you have no choice but to soothe stressful thoughts.

No matter how busy your life is, don’t stretch yourself so thin that you can’t be the best version of yourself.

Take care of yourself. Rest is important. Take time for self-care; you need it and deserve it. (Read my post that has ideas for self-care activities.)

And being busy is nothing to brag about. Your worth isn’t determined by how much you have going on.

Sleeping dog

If nothing else, remember this…

When you find yourself feeling crazy busy and stress is getting the best of you, take a few deep breaths!

Knowing the benefits of having your mind at ease and feeling good, I hope you leave behind the “I’m so busy” way of life.

We all have the same 24 hours in a day; bring joy into your life as you use those hours wisely. Please drop me a comment with your tips for keeping your busy schedule in control and crawling out of the “I’m so busy” trap.


Busy people walking

13 Replies to “Why is Everyone So Busy? (and how to ease overwhelm)”

  1. Great article Ellen. I find two things to be helpful when I feel so busy:
    1. Ask for help , whether it is from family & friends or paid help like hiring a cleaning lady. I still remember being stressed out one week years ago when I was in charge of planning a party and had two young kids. A neighbor wisely recognized my overwhelm and got play dates for her kids. Then she came over to help me make a list and immediately tackle the two biggest chores. After that I was able to handle the rest both mentally and physically!
    2. Get into nature for a minute. If you can take those deep breaths you mentioned while outside (especially in the sunshine) it seems to immediately improve my attitude!

    1. Hi Anne, thank you so much for adding your excellent tips. Why do us women tend to think we need to handle things all on our own? Asking for help is a wise tip. And I also agree that time in nature is like a little piece of heaven. Appreciate your comment!

  2. First of all, this sounds scarily familiar:

    Sometimes when I have too many things to do I end up doing none of it. I’ll manage to go into a Facebook stupor or zone out on some silly game on my phone.

    And I’m not knocking games on the phone – I think they can be a fun way to unwind, but not when you barely even know that you’re playing (and you still feel just as bad as you did when you started!).

    Secondly, I agree with Anne Wiegman’s excellent point about getting into nature. Getting away from work, demands, the news, etc, and being present outdoors can work wonders!

    1. Hi Julie, glad you can relate to the “being too busy”
      Syndrome. Hope you can use the tips to avoid or at least ease the overwhelm!

  3. Great blog post, Ellen! We need to be aware of how we spend our time and take action if everything gets overwhelming, I agree. I’m going to pin this on Pinterest for my busy moms to read this too 🙂

  4. Sometimes feeling overwhelmed comes from tha little voice in our heads saying we have to do it all and do it to perfection. I love spending time with my family and hiking and biking. Sometimes that means the dust bunnies win but that’s ok. When I do clean or get a big project done, I sit back and enjoy: whether it is the newly cleaned windows or a quilt I made. I also try to carve out a little time for myself each day, by doing a puzzle or playing a game on my phone, reading or even taking a nap.

  5. Relaxing is so important and something we don’t permit ourselves to do enough. I’ve taken my blood pressure after reading and listening to music and its lower, no surprise. Maybe that shows how healthy it is to let go and give ourselves moments of peace.

    1. Good for you to prove to yourself that a little R&R is important for your health!

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